Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Home of some pretty epic castle ruins, Ha Ha Tonka is a pretty unique state park located near Camdenton, Missouri. Sadie and Eli were excited for us to drive to them for their engagement pictures. We were more than excited to visit this prime location for a photoshoot. Ha Ha Tonka doesn’t quite fit into the classification of adventure photography, but we did fit in some hiking where the opportunity for photos was definitely abundant. The winter deadness made finding color more difficult, but with a few tricks up our sleeves we were very happy with how these turned out.


Underneath a natural rock bridge made for some interesting scenery. We added some soft light to help balance the ultra-bright backdrop. They were all full of smiles and are really looking forward to getting married this June. Can you tell they like each other? The glimmer in the backdrop is a slow-flowing waterfall. It added a nice touch of interest since the winter did offer us mostly dead trees.

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Another cool thing about this location is this where Eli proposed to Sadie. He told us the whole story about how Sadie was clueless that Eli was going to propose on Valentine’s Day and how he had tons of bouquets of flowers setup for her. He did an amazing job setting up the whole day. The Lake of the Ozarks can been seen from up here and this is one shot where the winter trees actually lend service to the pictures allowing you to see the blue water down below.

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I was looking for color and Marilyn was looking for light and together we came up with these. Marilyn has an incredible eye for light and I tend to see composition. We really do make a great team and having two cameras going can mean for a huge variety of excellent shots in every situation we shoot.

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Being at this Castle has definitely made me want to go back and explore even more options. It is kind of like a photographer’s playground minus the fence and bars prohibiting you from access. Ruins make for a perfect photoshoot because of what they symbolize. The crazy turmoil that life can bring doesn’t stand up against lasting love. Love is stronger than death the poet said and these walls have withstood the earth shaking, fire, and incredible winds. The love that these two have for each other will last longer than these stone walls.

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Having a light means that you can take a decent sunset photo or in this case, a wonderful sunset photo. I totally love the expression of these two and down to the sliver of space between their noses creating a technical perfection that I was aiming to capture. I can’t image everything going through their minds at this moment, but I am definitely assured that they have a profound love for each other that I highly respect and admire. I see a bright future for these two. Marilyn and I had a fantastic time hanging out with them and I think they had a great experience as well. I can’t wait to shoot their wedding here in a couple months.

15 Top Pro Tips to Finding YOUR Perfect Wedding Photographer!!

Are you stressing out planning a wedding? We are here to help!!

20 Years from now, probably the most important vendor you hire will be your Wedding Photographer. You may watch your video (if you get one) once a year or once a decade, but your photos will likely be hanging on your walls and possibly sitting on your coffee table for years to come. Your choice of beef or chicken and how it tasted will likely fade away. Your venue (though massively important) won’t matter as much as who was there all day with you capturing your most precious memories.

How do you get the right person as a photographer? How do you not get fooled with crafty marketing or super-fun personalities with no skills? The KEY is to ask, “Will this person (or TEAM) make my wedding an enjoyable, stress-free day AND will this person (or TEAM) provide me with TONS of gorgeous, perfect, professional photos I can own forever?”

Before booking a photographer, there are a few key things to know - I hope this “15 Top Pro Tips to Finding YOUR Perfect Wedding Photographer” helps you find the perfect person (or TEAM)…lets get started…

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PRO TIP #1 - Ask to See FULL Wedding Albums

This is probably the most important tip in my arsenal. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a FULL wedding album speaks a trillion (math) and may save you from making a bad choice in your photographer. Some portfolios have amazing photos (and they should), but typically this is 30-40 of the best. A great photographer should be willing and proud to share more than what they show in their portfolio.

In looking at a full album you need to ask yourself, “Can this photographer deliver amazing photos all day and in all types of situations?” How do they do at indoor photography? Low lighting situations indoors are much more difficult to photograph and require advanced knowledge. How do their flash shots look? Do the people indoors look like they were captured in perfect light or do they look like they were blasted with a flash? Do all the photos look consistent in the album? Are there a variety of posed and candid photos?

Did they dedicate enough time to carefully edit all the photos or are there distractions and blemishes everywhere? Ask yourself, “Did they edit these for their portfolio or does it look like they took incredible care of their wedding couple by editing all the photos perfectly? If you are paying thousands of dollars, you better be getting an amazing looking set of photos all the way through. See how they captured a whole day and this should tell you a lot before having that first interview.

PRO TIP #2 - High-Priced is Best, Right? Maybe…?

Price is a touchy subject among professional photographers. It is an undervalued field and extremely hard work. Some consumers assume the most expensive is the best and in some cases that may be true, but not always. You may be able to save thousands of dollars if you are wise or lucky to find a newer, talented professional who isn’t asking for that premium price (I am very biased here). If PRO TIP #1 checks out, you may have hit a gem to save big on a talented yet lesser-experienced professional.

Seasoned professionals may have the networking and reputation to be able to charge $5000 up to $9000 for their services, but their work may not be much better or even better at all than a less-expensive professional. The honest truth is that most of these high-end photographers are very, very good (they likely didn’t get there because they suck), but be careful because some of these top-priced photographers don’t know how to even focus their camera properly when the bride is walking down the isle (I see it all the time). Some of these photographers have no idea how to bounce their flash indoors for example. Price is not the best barometer in my humble opinion. See PRO TIP #1 (The most important) and make sure that you aren’t buying the most expensive assuming they are the best.

PRO TIP #3 - BEWARE of the Bargain “Pro”

On the other hand, If you find a photographer charging aggressively cheap prices (under $1000) and offering you the world for that price, you may want to be very skeptical and stay away. There are literally a million “photographers” out there today who may be trying to undercut pros with unbelievable deals. If you are going to skimp, skimp on something else. If you absolutely must find a very inexpensive photographer because of a tight budget, just be very careful with this one.

“What about my best friend’s, neighbor’s sister who got a DSLR for Christmas?” Well Gina, I’m glad you asked. Wedding photos are literally priceless heirlooms not to be trifled with. Don’t assume cousin Jeff’s new fancy camera means he knows how to shoot a wedding. You may have a photograph nightmare on your hands. Shooting a wedding is probably the most difficult and the most important type of photography there is; it is not for an amateur. If you want dozens of horror stories, just start asking around. There are thousands of cousin Jeff catastrophes where people didn’t even get their photos because they turned out so bad, were lost, or just didn’t ever get edited.

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PRO TIP #4 - Coverage - How Long Will They Be There?

Some packages include full day coverage and some price their packages by the hours of coverage. If you hire a photographer who limits their time, ask them what they will do if they go over the allotted time in your contract. I was in a friends wedding as a guest and the photographer left the scene 30 minutes before the sparkler exit because they were only booked until 10 PM. I had my camera and got some amazing shots, but what a disaster!! Don’t let this happen, and the safest bet is to find someone who agrees to be there through the whole wedding. If you have a limited-time photographer, just be clear with them in the contract that they will be willing to stay if needed for an extra fee.

PRO TIP #5 - What is included in the packages?

This is adding on to TIP #4. What is included, exactly? Does this package include 1 or 2 photographers (See TIP #6)? Does this package mean you can keep, download, or print your photos? How many photos will they edit? Does this package include physical prints or physical albums? Are they going to put a pesky watermark on your photos? If they don’t have anything physical or digital you can keep in the packages, then you should ask what those items cost. If they don’t allow you to keep all of your digital files, then what other money will you be looking at spending after all is said and done. How much MORE Money should I expect to spend? A good “deal” could turn into a financial nightmare and you might not own your photos after the wedding. Find out what you are actually getting for that price.

PRO TIP #6 - Who is my Second Shooter?

Does the photographer have a dedicated second shooter or do they work with different people regularly? What is their second shooter’s experience level? The advantage of having two photographers is that you can capture so much more of the ceremony and reception from different vantage points. There will be more photos to choose from, less stress on the wedding day, and more probability of getting an amazing set of images if you hire a second photographer for your wedding. How much more will this add to your package price or is it included? What will the second photographer be doing and are they any good? Dig a little bit about who this second shooter is going to be because it may make a big difference on getting the BEST photographer or photographer TEAM possible.

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PRO TIP #7 - What is their turn-around-time?

Many photographers will work hard to get you a sneak peek that same night. Some photographers will take months to get you your photos and it can be very frustrating to not see anything for months. Make sure they can commit in the contract a reasonable time. A few weeks is reasonable because it takes a long time to edit an entire wedding day properly. We, for example, offer a sneak peek that same night, but spend between 20 and 50 hours editing every photo with as much precision and care as possible. We specify less than 40 days after the wedding to have the full album finished and this seems reasonable to us. Give your photographer time, but make sure you know what you are getting into as far as timeline.

PRO TIP #8 - Are Engagement Photos Included?

Some packages come with an engagement session. This session can be an enormous advantage before and on your wedding day. First, you may save a lot of money grouping these photos into your package price. Second, an engagement session gives both you and your fiancé a chance to work with the photographer(s) before game-day. You get a couple hours to practice posing, know what to expect, and get to know your photographer(s). Using these photos for invites and save-the-dates is also a bonus if you book early enough.

PRO TIP #9 - Checking Reviews

This may be obvious, but read what people have said about the photographer. Some photographer reviews may blow your mind and some may not. You will get a feel for their level of service if you read through the reviews. I highly recommend to not pay too much attention to the reviews on their personal website (waste.of.time). Those reviews are hand-picked and may not reflect reality. They may even be fake. Check Facebook, Google, and The Knot to see if they have solid, raving reviews. Reviews can tell you a lot, but PRO TIP #1 trumps reviews. Some couples may write amazing things about their photographers regardless of dissatisfactory pictures and perhaps they did have a wonderful experience, but look a little more carefully into their actual work before getting ready to sit down for an interview.

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What about when you have narrowed down the field to only a few great options?

PRO TIP #10 - Get an Interview - In-Person is Best

This person or these persons are not baking your cake and they are not setting up your table decor. They are literally going to be with you for an entire day and on what may be one of the most important days of your life. Are they cool? Do you like them? Are they articulate? Are they annoying? Do they at least seem trustworthy?

Setup an interview with at least a couple of different photographers. I recommend picking one at the top of your budget and one or two towards the middle or low end of your budget. How are they dressed? Do they present themselves as professionals? If they are shady in an interview, you may not want them there at your high-priced, most cherished party. How do they carry themselves? Are they confident? Can they answer all your questions sufficiently?

If they are out of town or in another state, do a video chat. Video is the next best thing and you will really want to see how the person interacts with you. This vendor will hopefully be like a best-friend on your wedding day. You may want to get to know them a bit.

PRO TIP #11 - How do They Do Travel?

It is a very small world when compared to 50 years ago. If you are willing to book a photographer from another town, ask them about travel. Some wedding photographers will travel to other countries and climb high mountains to create masterpieces. Some may only be a couple hours away. You may want a local photographer, but there can be great advantages to getting a photographer from out of town as well. First, an out of town photographer may get you the best photographer at the best price. For example, the cost of living where we live is FAR less than New York or California, thus we can charge less than NYC. Hiring someone from out of town may add airfare and hotel costs, but you still may end up saving a couple thousand dollars. If you are adventurous ask them about destinations or adventure engagement shoots or trash the dress shoots or having a separate bridal session on a different day.

PRO TIP #12 - At Least Try to Look Beyond the Trendy

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sexy-vogue, cool, candid, off-camera poses as much as anybody. But 10 years from now it may be nice to have a picture of you and your spouse looking at the camera. As you are looking through a photographer’s work, do they provide a variety of ultra-trendy photos and more traditional poses? If others are helping you pay for your wedding, they may want a print of a traditional pose. Some photographers are almost too cool and they maybe aren’t putting their clients needs ahead of their own. Prints that hang on the wall typically include a photo of the couple looking towards the camera. Mom or Grandma is going to be very upset if all she gets is something found in a designer magazine. You may not realize the importance of this, but it can be a game-changer in finding the right photographer.

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PRO TIP #13 - Organization equals stress-free?

Ask questions about communication before and during the wedding. Do they have a questionnaire or shot list prior to the wedding day? The photographer can relieve massive amounts of stress if they are organized and ready for the day. Do they prepare a timeline beforehand and help you with the timing of your day. Will they communicate before your wedding? If so, when and how will they communicate? In your interview, you may want to get a feel for how organized they are going to be during and before the wedding. Communication is key to having a STRESS-FREE day!!

PRO TIP #14 - Hard Work is One Key, Talent is Another

Talent is one key, but all the talent in the world won’t make up for hard work. Asking the right questions will tell you if your photographers are going to work hard on your wedding day and after your day in the editing process. How can you tell if they are hard workers? Will they be willing to be there all day? Will they work 14 hours to be there for you if needed? You may want to know how many days it will take for your photographer to get you your photos (See Tip #7). Will this photographer be able to get you some sneak peak photos that same night? Great photographers will be willing to not simply do editing (toning, color contrast, color balance), but they will also be willing to remove blemishes and distractions from the photo, which takes more time. And please remember, even the hardest workers in the business need breaks and get those people some cake for crying out loud. Feed them and take good care of them. They are VIPs on your wedding day and they have your photos- so be nice to them!!

PRO TIP #15 - How Will They Handle Difficult Situations?

Sometimes, wedding days are rainy. Ask in your interview how will they handle rain? Do they bring umbrellas? What about a dark reception? What if a camera breaks on your wedding day? Do they have two cameras? What if Aunt Susie has a meltdown? Large groups can be difficult and time consuming. See how your potential photographer handle group photos. Think of what challenging situations may come up for your wedding and ask your potential photographer how they are going to handle that situation if it arises. You may even want to have a list of these questions prepared before going into your interview.

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Take this list and see if you can’t find the best photographer in your area or the world for that matter.

If you have made it this far, you can contact me at Stevenwaynejones@gmail.com or reach me at 805-234-2345. My wife and I work as Wedding Photographers in Branson, Missouri. We travel all over the Midwest for weddings and are excited to start doing destination weddings this coming year. Let us know how we can help you get an amazing set of pictures telling the full story of your special day.

Long-Exposure Photography

So whether you are in a dark, dance-hall or camping under the stars, night-time photography can provide some of the most unique shots where the world is seen in only a way captured by a camera and its photographer.  A nighttime shot done right rarely disappoints those wishing to have their minds captivated visually.  

This shot was taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a 15-30 Tamron F2.8 VC lens.  The settings were 100 ISO, 20 Seconds, and F19.  This shot may have been cooler if my wife and I were there 40 minutes earlier to catch the late dark blue sky, but I actually like how the black background contrasts so heavily with the other colors in the scene.  This photo does not lack color by any means!!  The Branson, MO Ferris Wheel has been a great addition to fun activities tourists now enjoy every summer.  My sweet wife was gracious enough to go out with me on a mini-photo-date.  

Taking this type of shot requires a little bit of trial and error.  The timing of the cars is important.  You don't want to go so late where there are no cars.  You probably don't want cars sitting still in HWY 76 traffic either, which is a common occurrence here.  The cars going both directions is important because getting the red tail-lights adds a pop of color while the head-lights add drama and excitement to the photo.  The Ferris wheel is about as predictable as a two-year-old who needs a nap.  The light-show changes all the time and how the camera captures those 10-20 seconds is hard to know.  I like when the lights are not super bright because if the show is going off big-time then you end up with a disc of pure light.  Make sure you have a good tripod and your camera is very secure.  Wind blowing the camera can ruin the sharpness of this photo.  Thankfully, we have a great tripod and there was little wind for this shot, making it razor sharp.  I always use the 2-second delay, which will prevent the shot from having any shake as you push down the shutter button.  The high aperture number is what makes the street lights have that star effect.  I recommend 13-19 as your f-stop if you want to make the lights appear as stars.  A low ISO will also make for a very clean, professional quality photo.  You can bump up the ISO and play with the settings some to get a look you like.  The Canon 5D Mark IV's 30MP sensor will definitely do the job in getting plenty of detail for this shot.  Any modern DSLR will take this shot successfully when done well.  

Besides that, I think you will just need to go out and shoot.  Remember to try and get some foreground subjects in your landscape shots.  A person, a boat, some driftwood, a grand-mother smoking a cuban, or hold up some weeds in front of the lens.  Just do something to make it more interesting.  I chose the car-lights to make this more than an ordinary Ferris Wheel shot.  Let me know what you think.  Contact me if you need a photographer here in Branson or anywhere else in the world if it is worth my travel.  Cheers!!! 


Tips - Engagement ShootS

So, this couple is so sweet, so kind, and so gorgeous.  Marilyn and I loved spending a couple hours with them at the Branson Landing taking some engagement photos.  We were able to get a wide variety of shots and do several different poses, locations, etc.  

Here are a few tips for couples in planning out an engagement shoot:

1. Let it be just like a date - I suggested to Ben that he should take Emma out on a date and there just happened to be a photographer there directing some pictures.  I think this got Ben in a more romantic mood and was really encouraged to be on a photoshoot.  Guys are not always crazy about taking pictures, but guys like Ben are definitely crazy about their ladies. 

2. Plan out your outfits well - This is so very important.  Ladies generally are more with it in this area and as a guy, I can attest that I usually don't care that much about what I am wearing unless it is absolutely necessary to care (I am working on it).  There just isn't space for that sort of thing in the male brain.  Ben was different however.  He and Emma worked together and he put together a great outfit that was dressy enough for Emma's dress; It was void of any distractions like huge logos, crazy colors, or wild patterns.  Emma's dress was stunning as well. 

3. Groom well - Grooming in a photoshoot is more important that grooming for say an event or for a day at the office.  Photos are something people hone in on and stare at sometimes.  You may not want a hairy neck on photo day (guys).  You may want to take an extra twenty minutes in front of the mirror (I am speaking to guys) to tweez, pluck, or shave any area that doesn't look perfect.  Yes, photoshop can take care of a lot, but a hairy neck is next to impossible to photoshop out 50-100 times.  Help the photographer by grooming well. I would also highly recommend just going to a barber and letting him deck you out with a shave to make you look professionally groomed.  That is the best.  

4. Frizzy Hair - Emma had a great hair day even when the wind was blowing.  I am not sure how she did it.  Fly-aways are hard to edit out and if there are too many or if the hair looks too frizzy it can be a big distraction.  I am not a pro at girl-hair, but I know that Argan oil or some leave-in conditioners can prepare you for your looking as smooth as possible.  I would consult a professional because on this subject, I am not.  

5. Pro Make-Up - If you really want some amazing results on your engagement shoot day.  Get a pro to do your hair and make-up or just make-up.  Emma's make-up looked great on this shoot, but maybe something to consider.  

6. Have Fun - Hopefully your photographer can have fun with you guys and you can have a relaxed shoot where you are not in a total rush, spark a little romance, and end up having a blessed engagement shoot.  

Stay tuned for more photography tips from SWJones Photo!!

Branson Landing at Night

Marilyn and I took Amanda and her husband Grant downtown to the Branson Landing and we shot some great night shots despite the challenges.  It was windy and cold, but we were determined to get some night portraits done.  The flash needs to be set just right and the backlighting was facilitated by Grant holding the light.  Marilyn and I both took photos throughout the shoot.  I started and after about five minutes a security guard rolled up to remind us that these photos could not show up in a magazine.  I assured the security professional that these were not for a publication.  If you are wanting portraits done in Branson, MO or anywhere in Southwest Missouri or Northwest Arkansas - Give us a call.  

Senior Photos in Branson

Sarah was a terrific model for this photoshoot.  We were down at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, MO accompanied by my beautiful wife Marilyn and Sarah's friend Collin.  As you can tell these photos turned out fabulous.  When you have a talented and lovely model like Sarah, gorgeous light, and amazing help the possibilities are endless.  We had some incredible keepers and this was by far my most successful photoshoot to date.  I hope to excel as a freelance photographer in the Branson area and all across Missouri.  Sarah will be a model for SWJones Photo again hopefully in the spring for a bridal shoot - So stay tuned!!  SWJones Photo would like to thank Sarah for offering her talent.  She said that she will use these headshots for her application to acting school and that these were the best photos she has ever had taken of her.  She was a natural at modeling and a joy to work with.   I would label this shoot a fashion-headshot-stylized senior photo session if there is such a thing.  We had fun for sure!!

Lake View Real Estate

So this blog will serve to show you what SWJones photography is doing as it relates to Real Estate photos.  I took off from Branson this past Monday to travel down old HWY 86 near my old stomping grounds.  I found Bluff Cove and arrived at my destination.  I immediately went to work because I knew this house was going to be challenging.  It is a little over 4000 sq. ft., but that is not what makes this type of project challenging.  The challenging part was the numerous window shots and getting the right exposure to see the lake view.  The post production is the most challenging part to adjust window brightness, color, and contrast.  I met Rheena and Mike (the owners), which was a pleasure as we waited for the relator to show up.  I had a blast in this house because it was immaculate and I didn't need to move hardly a thing.  After taking my outdoor shots I came in and started in the great room.  We went to the garage, the master suite, the office, the downstairs theater room, the other bedrooms, and captured their wonderful pantry.  The last stop was out the back deck to capture the beautiful lake view.  This is a millions dollar view for only 600K!!  I wish I had the money to purchase a house like this.  

First Dance

Logan and Mary Miller were enjoying a perfect dance on a perfect day.  These images capture just a small snapshot of their wedding.   I love first dance pictures.  The emotions the couple share after all the planning, all the hype, all the anticipation, and even all the chaos of the wedding day.  It is like the eye of a beautiful storm.  They are totally alone together for almost the first time since they have been married and yet they are so totally not alone.  The onlookers are abundant and yet this is the one time in their life that they may feel like a movie-star performing for a crowd.  Though they are not performing and though they are not famous, they look amazing and feel amazing.  This is their special day.  Mary and Logan encapsulate here in these shots some of the best things about being a photographer.  These angles and these moments cannot be relived and yet they are sealed here for as long as the googles and the internets survive.  Their memories will be logged for eternity in their minds and in their hearts.  

Branson House Realty

So this adorable little house was my next real estate photography attempt.  The inside and outside shots turned out fantastic and there were over 500 views within the first day of it being posted.  I can't take all the credit as a photographer because this house is charming from the front all by itself.  This is an affordable home with 3 beds and two baths and priced at 135K it is a bargain.  It is tucked back in a gem of a neighborhood on the outskirts of Rockaway Beach.  what a deal!!

Chef James

So I think I may have found my future niche in photography.....FOOD!! No, probably not, but I loved taking pictures for my friend James who is studying to become a chef.  He bought some food and came over to my place to not only make the biggest mess in the universe, but he made some delicious food for me while he was here.  I was able to set up some lights and my lovely wife helped making the place-setting look beautiful with props.  I really love how these turned out.  I used a macro 100mm lens and a 50mm f1.8.  Both lenses did fairly well and I realized that there are a lot of variables when it comes to an excellent food photo.  The first dish was a pan-fried chicken breast with sweet potatoes and a kale salad.  The second dish was a Salmon Mousseline with a spicy pepper sauce and kale salad.  Both were very delicious and I think my favorite part was not the pictures, but actually the food.    

Pan-Fried Chicken Photo

A Portrait at Hollister Coffee Co.

So, I was working at a coffee shop as I often do and learned that it was this lovely lady's birthday.  I needed to take a short break and decided why not take a portrait for the birthday girl.  Lauren is super sweet and this was one fun way to make a connection and post a cool photo to a local business FB page.  Hollister Coffee Co. is a local gem with great employees and a great owner.  Stoked to carry my camera everywhere I go.  This was taken with a 100mm prime f2.8 macro lens.  

Jasmine K.- a great model!

  So it was on the eve of a horrendous storm called storm Reggie and Jasmine was the only one who made it over to our house that evening.  We named the evening Reggmegedon and while some people were in their basement taking shelter, we were having a photo shoot.  My wife Marilyn, who happens to be a Mary Kay Consultant, spent time getting Jazz all prettied up.  In addition, the crazy thing was that Jazz had brought some cute outfits just in case we were going to have a photo shoot.  She knows me well.  Anyway, we were in the studio for about an hour where things seemed to go pretty much perfect.  

  Jazz was camera shy at first, but Marilyn played some music, we danced, Tozer got recruited as a prop, and life was pretty much great.  I was shooting a 50mm 1.8 prime and my wife was helping hold some directional light.  It was a team effort and thanks to Adobe Lightroom, we were able to touch up some pretty amazing shots.  I hope to recruit more models to just have fun and take more awesome shots like these in the near future.  And we survived Reggmegeddon to tell the tale!!!

February Flowers!!

So I think there were records broken this month for February warmth.  Summer in February is a very good thing when you are in the midwest.  Narcissus are among the first flowers to pop up in spring and this beauty showed up in my front yard about half way through one of our coldest months.  I came home from work at around dusk, got my camera, got down on my belly, and took a few shots once my settings seemed perfect.  I tried to get a clean and blurred out background to save me time in post.  I might invest in a special macro lens as I think about it or borrow one from a close friend to try out getting some of those extremely close up shots.  Anyway, I can't wait for spring- I am so glad that we are getting a sneak preview with lots of budding trees and early flowers.  Winter is gone (almost) and I am planning what types of photography I might like to try as the seasons transition.  This flower reminds me of the verse where Jesus compares how a flower is dressed more beautiful then the splendor of Solomon.  He ties in the beauty of nature to how we ought not to worry about our lives, what we should eat, wear, or drink.  He says that we ought to trust in God to provide for our needs and that today has enough worries of its own.  Jesus is pretty smart.  

Cardinals & Drive-by Photography!

   So I have been waiting all winter for the right setting to take a Cardinal shot.  Yesterday was the day.  I was driving home from a disappointed attempt at finding some cool shots and there happened to be a detour road down a residential street.  Providence would have it that I stumbled across cardinal heaven.  I have never seen so many cardinals that were ready for a photo op.  They were all flirting with one another and the ladies were having a blast eating some sort of berries.  Cardinals seem to be a bit shy most of the time except when they are flirting or have a really great tree full of snacks.  It also was very helpful that I was in my best blind- my truck.  With all that to say, I tested out my Canon 70D's output with some rapid-fire shooting and I was not disappointed- at 7 fps the camera did just what I needed.  I had some very crisp shots and I couldn't believe that this female cardinal did not fly away.  I was very close to her and I was shooting about 300mm and 1/750th of a second.  The morning light was just beautiful.  Rockaway Beach is a little gem of a location for some interested shots. 

Cardinal Picture Branson